Stephen Walters

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What Is My Work About? I would call myself an ?object maker? because the complexion of my artworks differs in form and material from idea to idea.  On a structural level one work can be radically different from the next, I could be working on a realistic painting, involved with a photograph, producing wax sculpture, or dipping paper in paint within the same day. The working method I employ utilizes the simultaneous use of preset rules and chance operations used towards generating meaning.  This way of working requires me to lend much of the actual control of the making and meaning to the working process.

 

Artist Statement

The most pertinent statement I can offer about my art production at this moment is that it privileges diversity over uniformity. The works rarely develop in extended series. I call myself an “object-oriented thinker”, meaning I tend to stress the process and material-ness of an object over the image. By using this tact I hope to physically engage the viewer with real objects and real processes and in doing so temporarily deflect our image centered world toward a visceral relationship with the artwork.

 

The notice board pieces recall a pre-Craig’s List world where wants and needs of the community were posted in the public at large; lost or found dogs, band gigs, information of local events but most importantly services offered and services desired. These works were produced by dipping paper into enamel paint, let to dry and pinned or stapled on soundboard panels. I intended a way of making a painting that would have a sculptural effect as well. The dipped papers stack and curl lifting themselves off the flat surface of the support conveying a relief effect.

 

Even though the materials help dictate the idea for the artworks, the process is open and in fact relies on chance occurrences that complement content. An example would be to use nature itself as a medium. While working in the desert, I utilized the most abundant resources I had at hand; light, time and space. Using sunlight, duration and the room in this expansive landscape to make paintings that have a burnt and ethereal appearance.

 

These “solar degradation paintings” were produced by placing objects on top of a painted ground and left in place for an extended period of time exposed to the sun. Removing these objects up to 6 months later registered an imprint of those objects that blocked the sun and bleached out unprotected areas of the surface. Once the imposed time limit is spent the painting is now called “fixed” leaving a record of its time spent in the desert sun. In this process I see the sun as both subject and a material.

 

The concrete screen block designs that supplement these paintings are found in many mid-century buildings and houses of the desert communities of Southern California, were I grew up. These screen walls acted as ornament but also as architectural impediment to vision, “screening” out the view of those looking in and those looking out.

 

In these paintings, screens and other works, the artist acts as something of a vanished mediator. I start the working process in motion then relinquish over the work to exterior phenomena I don’t necessarily control. As with the example of the solar degradation paintings, the “absent maker” draws on duration and nature as collaborators in creation of meaning.

 

While employing this “absent maker” metaphor, vulnerability and uncertainty also function as instruments in the generation of my work and process. They concede an experimental zone allowing me the chance to draw out form and content. In this zone I analyze different suggestions to the question of how do you communicate melancholy, isolation, and the struggle of art production itself.

 

Most of my pieces have stories loosely attached to them that aren’t part of the work in the end effect. The Samuelson’s Rocks suite of screen-prints however, point to my interest in the idea of isolation in relation to the creative act. Briefly, in the 1920-30’s John Samuelson homesteaded in what is now Joshua Tree National Park. In this isolation he carved verse into stone about various political, religious, philosophical statements. The interesting thing is that these writings are so physically isolated few could even find them now, yet the texts are still relevant today and will long live into the future. This passing of time, of (un)natural processes and of our implied impact on the world around us is a concern of mine. This desert prophecy is a kind of writing that hopes to have a longer life span than the spasmatic tweets of our cacophonic twitter-minded culture.

 

Like the lyricism of Samuelson, the rotating 360-degree head profiles share a look into the psyche of modern culture. Made of heavy oil and wax, I wanted to have a visceral demonstration in which the seemingly rotating heads disorder the viewer’s perception and project the modern mental states of contemporary society. These heads while stationary objects paradoxically appear to be in perpetual motion.

 

CV

Lives and works in Los Angeles, California

 

Education

 

BFA, Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design, Vancouver, BC, Canada.

 

University of British Columbia, Art History

 

MFA, University of California, Irvine. Irvine, CA

 

 

 

One-Person Exhibitions

 

2005

 

“Psyche Room 100,000,000 Trip”, Access Gallery Vancouver, BC Canada (artist run space)

 

2011

 

“Absent Work”, Common Space Gallery, Los Angeles, CA (art run space)

 

Selected Group Exhibitions

 

2002

 

“Painting News”, Calgary Art Gallery, Calgary, AB

 

2006

 

“Painting’s Edge”, Parks Exhibition Center, Idyllwild, CA

 

2008

 

“Desert Sexy”, Constant Gallery, Los Angeles, CA (curator)

 

2010

 

“UCI Graduate Show”, LAXART, Los Angeles, CA

 

 

 

 

2011

 

“Beige and Plastic”, Khastoo Gallery, Los Angeles, CA

 

“Speculative Materialism: Abstract Art and Its Conditions”, D-Block Projects, Long Beach, CA

 

 

2012

 

“9 Holes”, Paredon Blanco, Los Angeles, CA

 

“Peace Tower”, LAXART, Los Angeles, CA

 

“Speculative Materialism II”, Andi Campognone Projects, Pomona, CA

 

 

 

 

Residencies / Workshops

 

2006

 

Painting’s Edge, Idyllwild Arts Academy, Idyllwild, CA